Best Small Towns to Live in Florida for Jobs 2 comments

Criteria Used to Choose the Best Small Towns to Live in Florida for Jobs

When I was young I asked some of the wisest people I knew where the best place to live was. The answer

santa rosa beach florida

This photo of Santa Rosa Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

most often given was “the place you can earn a living”. Having lived in a few different states in the US and helping 1000’s of people buy and sell homes, I can tell you this: You can live in “paradise”, but if you’re struggling financially, you will be miserable. You can also live in what most people consider a lousy place to exist but if you’re earning a great living you may love it there. So the main criteria used for our choices was a low unemployment rate because that means you will have less competition for jobs.

People of all ages desire to live someplace safe so that’s another criteria we used. To make this list, the unemployment rate most be among the lowest in Florida and the town must be relatively safe. It’s like Clint Eastwood once said in a movie, “Dying ain’t any way to make a living”. We did however struggle with safety. Why?

First of all, Florida as a whole is not one of the safest places to live in the US. In fact, compared to other US states it’s one of the worst. It’s ranking of violent crimes per 100,000 people is the 4th worst in the nation according to the US Census Bureau. Also, looking at crime rates by county, the places with the lowest unemployment rates in Florida are rarely the safest places to live in Florida. So please realize that when we choose a place in Florida because it has a lower crime rate for the state, there’s a chance they may still have a higher rate of violent crime than where you now live. The choices below do offer your best options for jobs in safer small towns in Florida.

To make the cut, cities also had to be a place worth moving over a 1000 miles for. What would be the point of moving far from “home” to a place so boring that the most exiting activity could be sleeping? Luckily, Florida does well in this category because there’s lots of enjoyable recreational and leisure to pursue. That’s what makes Florida the most traveled to destination on earth.

Walton and Okaloosa Counties Florida

A Best Place to Live in Florida for Jobs in 2014 for:

  • People who prefer laid-back smaller towns over large cities
  • Young singles
  • Young families with children
  • People moving to Florida without a ton of cash
  • People who want to live near great beaches, fishing, casual dining and entertainment.
  • People who love to party (near some of the best known spring break beaches in Florida)

Walton and Okaloosa Counties had the 2nd and 3rd lowest rate of unemployment of all Florida counties as of January 1, 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Walton County’s unemployment rate of just 4% and Okaloosa’s 4.4% rate easily beats Florida’s overall unemployment rate of 5.9% and the US rate of over 6%. Since the counties combined are still a small fraction of Florida’s total population, there aren’t a million jobs available but because of the low rate of unemployment, you’ll have less competition for the jobs that are available.

This area has a lower to normal cost of housing for Florida. This lower cost of living plus low unemployment means it’s probably the best place to move in Florida in 2014 if you don’t have deep pockets and you’ll need to earn a living. These two counties have areas that offer some of the lower crime rates and better school rankings you’ll find in the sunshine state. All that plus great beaches on the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico makes these two counties a rarity in the sunshine state and a best place to live in Florida for jobs in 2014.

The towns in the area to take a look at include Crestview, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach and Wright, Florida.

Florida Jobs Update

Florida added the most jobs of any state in June 2014, but the state also led the US in Job losses just a month before. The unemployment rate in Florida is now higher than rate for the US as a whole, but only by .1%. So what does this mean for people thinking of moving to Florida and need to work because they’re not retired?

Since the Florida unemployment rate is almost the same as the US rate, your chances of becoming employed are probably no better or worse than where you now live if your state’s rate is around the national average. You will want to know what you states rate is because if you live in a state like Rhode Island where unemployment is near 8%, your chances of landing a job in Florida could be much better if you move to the sunshine state. If you live in a state like North Dakota, your chances of finding work in Florida could be far lower if you relocated.

Further complicating the picture is the difference in the unemployment rate from county to county in Florida. Unemployment in Hendry County Florida is 10.4 % so getting a job there would be difficult (I don’t know why you’d want to move there anyway). The county with the lowest rate of unemployment in Florida for June is Walton County in Florida’s panhandle. That area was one of our picks months ago for best places to find a job in Florida when this article was first posted.

Unlike Hendry County, Walton County has beautiful beaches, spring break parties and one of the lowest unemployment rates for all of 2014 in Florida so far. Other than when 1000’s of college kids descend on the area to party it up, the area has a laid back lifestyle, even by Florida standards which may be attractive to some, but too sleepy for energy junkies. The area isn’t densely populated either, so even though the jobless rate is low, there aren’t 1000’s of jobs available and many of them are lower paying jobs catering to tourist. But if you’re looking for a beautiful place to live near the beach with lots of watering holes to quench your thirst and fish shacks that serve fresh seafood, this mat be your place, especially now.

Bottom line? There are close to 600,000 people looking for work that live in Florida already. But the state is huge and your chances of becoming employed are about the same as in most of the nation. Just like in most states, there are higher paying jobs to be had in certain lines of work where you can be hired quickly. The chances of becoming employed in Florida in general are much better now than they would have been the first few years following the last recession, and no worse than most other states.

Walton County Destin Beach Area Video

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2 thoughts on “Best Small Towns to Live in Florida for Jobs

  • stephanie odonnell

    Im moving in April 2015. My husband will be workin in destin florida. I have a 5 year old. Which town will suote my needa. I need good schooling and low crime rate. But a town that has everything u need. that is no more thwn 40 min from destin. Please help

    • Ron Post author

      Hello Stephanie,
      The only place on our best places lists for 2015 in that area is Niceville. There just isn’t a lot to chose from in that area, and crime prevented us from recommending others, even though the higher rates may mostly be a result of temporary, but annual spring breaker’s.